Kolkata: Sakshi Malik is a youth icon, but not as popular as the captain of the Indian cricket team, Virat Kohli. Well, the Haryana wrestler did the nation proud by winning a bronze in the Rio Olympics last year, yet when it comes to stardom, she still has too many hurdles to cross before she can match Kohli. Yet, Malik has something take pride in. She is among the Padma Shri awardees in a list that also includes Kohli. The eight sports persons in the list are among the 89 Padma Awardees declared by the government on January 25.
The list of Padma Shri awardees in sports includes Kohli, Malik, Paralympians Mariyappan Thangavelu and Deepa Malik, gymnast Dipa Karmakar, Indian hockey captain PR Sreejesh, discus thrower Vikas Gowda and the captain of the Indian blind cricket team, Shekar Naik.
Kohli currently captains the Indian cricket team in all the three formats after MS Dhoni bid adieu to captaincy. The Delhi guy also won the Arjuna award in 2013. Malik has walked that extra mile to carve a niche in the history of sports in India. From being an “underdog” to winning the bronze medal in the Rio Olympics 2016, this 23-year-old has not only made India proud, but also has stood steadfast as an icon of excellence, struggle and dedication for girls all over the country to take to sports as a profession.
Thangavelu is an Indian Paralympic high jumper who represented India in the 2016 Paralympics in Rio in the men’s high jump T-42 category and won a gold medal for the nation. Deepa (Malik) is the first Indian woman to win a medal in the Paralympic Games. She won the silver in the 2016 Summer Paralympics in shot put.
Karmakar finished fourth in the women’s vault gymnastic event in the Rio Olympics. She is the first Indian female gymnast ever to compete in the Olympics and the first Indian gymnast to do so in 52 years. Sreejesh is the captain of the Indian hockey team and Gowda, the reigning Commonwealth and Asian champion, was left out in the qualifying round in the men’s discus throw in the Rio Olympics. The blind Indian cricket team won the world championship (T-20) under the captaincy of Naik.
Just take a note, Kohli shares the limelight with sports persons who mostly remain under the shadows of fame and stardom. The initiative of celebrating other sports along with cricket gives an impetus to the spirit of sportsmanship as all of them share the same platform of success which is an encouragement to both the achievers as well as the youth to take up all types of sports and not just cricket.